My dad, Maurice William Hallett, celebrated his 88th birthday with gusto, but not in Canada. When I offered him a birthday trip to the U.K. where my aunt Joy lived, he hesitated, but only for a minute.
Asked to describe himself, he would say: “Stoic, gregarious, easy to get along with.” That was true but as his daughter, I can now add a few things.
Dad was born in small Saskatchewan town on Oct. 2, 1911. He lived through the Great Depression but “never went a day
without work”. He finally saved enough money for the $35 return train ticket to Toronto where he stayed with his sister. He never used the return ticket.
Dad never complained on our trip. He was patient, appreciative, keen and eager to see and experience everything. Very sociable, his gift of the gab provided us with a steady stream of information as he chatted with English bus drivers, clerks, waitresses, pub servers and various pub customers. We learned about everything from English hedgerows, robins and rugby football to great battles, special ales and Worcester porcelain. Life was a permanent adventure for him.
My discovery: dad liked to be in control. He functioned at peak level when provided with maps, timetables and decisions to make. Although he had visited 37 countries, he was still counting.
After visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace, worcester Cathedral, The Royal Porcelain Factory and Museum plus a few pubs, dad agreed to use the wheelchair borrowed for him by my aunt.
nThe minute he saw an antique shop in Alcester, however, off he went with me following frantically after him, up two flights of stairs to browse and buy for his antique shop back in Perth, Ontario. My aunt, left on the street to guard the wheelchair, suddenly became the center of attention when she sat down to wait for us.
It was a long wait as my father was actually buying Worcester porcelain and other antiques for shipping home.
When we finally descended, a small crowd had gathered around my aunt. People were genuinely concerned and just had to know what had happened to Joy. Most people thought she had broken a hip. Others wanted to know who the strange man was.
Dad was having so much fun, he had totally forgotten his aches and pains and refused to get into the wheelchair for the long walk back to Joy’s apartment. I was the one who wheeled the empty wheelchair back, rather embarrassed about all the fuss, to say the least.